The Ravens had an impossible-to-miss participant in the building Wednesday for the offseason conditioning program.
Bryant McKinnie was back.
The big left tackle participated in the voluntary workouts just after signing a new two-year contract to return to the defending Super Bowl champions.
"It felt good to be back in the swing of things and it always feels good to know where you're going to be," the 33-year-old veteran said. "I wanted to be in Baltimore at the end of the day. I felt the most comfortable here and I wanted to get a chance to come back here and be around and try to take another run at a championship."
McKinnie went right back to work after officially re-joining the roster. This portion of the offseason program is all voluntary, but McKinnie's plan is to be a regular participant in the workouts.
"I'm going to be here more this year than before," McKinnie said. "This year I'll get a chance to work with [Run Game Coordinator] Juan [Castillo], and Juan wants to teach me some things that he thinks will make my job a little easier. I just want to practice my technique more this year."
McKinnie is heading into his 12th season in the NFL, and this will be his third season with the Ravens.
A common topic for the last few years during McKinnie's time in Baltimore has been his conditioning and ability to manage his weight. He was overweight when he reported to training camp last offseason, and then he had to work during the first few weeks of camp to shed the extra pounds.
McKinnie wants to avoid that issue this year.
"I agreed to play lower than last year, and last year I was at 352," said McKinnie, who stands at 6-foot-8. "The older you get, the more they want you to lose, but the harder it is. But I'm going to just do it. I have a gameplan this year and I have people in place that will help me. I'm really dedicated to do it because I really want to do it for myself and I just really want to play at that weight and play at a high level.
"That's been my goal for the last few seasons of my career, just to play at a real high level and dominate. If that's what I got to do to play at that weight to do it, then that's what I'm going to do."
McKinnie re-signed with the Ravens after drawing interest from several other teams. He visited with the Dolphins and the Chargers, and also received a call from the Cowboys. His goal all along was to end up back in Baltimore, and he made sure that his agent ran any offers from other teams by the Ravens to see if General Manager Ozzie Newsome would match it.
While McKinnie said it was tough to be patient and wait on something to come through with the Ravens, he pointed to phone conversations with Head Coach John Harbaugh that convinced him interest was mutual.
"He just definitely told me that he wanted me to come back and take another run," McKinnie said. "By him telling me that, it told me, 'OK, they want me back, so I just got to wait.' I was just trying to be patient and wait until they were ready to get everything together to bring me back."
Now he's back in Baltimore after a stellar postseason to finish last year.
After spending the regular season on the sidelines, McKinnie started all four games during the playoffs and played a key role in keeping quarterback Joe Flacco upright. With McKinnie protecting his blindside, Flacco tied an NFL playoff record by throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
After that postseason run, McKinnie's aim is to be the starting left tackle all season.
"That's the goal," McKinnie said. "And that will get done, to come in and start Week 1."
With McKinnie at left tackle, the most likely group along the line is Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Gino Gradkowski at center, Marshal Yanda at right guard and Michael Oher at right tackle.
"I think this line can be great," McKinnie said. "I also want to help K.O. get to the Pro Bowl because I think he's very capable of doing so in his second year. And I want to help us win games and get back to where we were last year."